Old Holborn: Behind The Mask

Old Holborn
Source: Arfur Daley (@ArfurD)
(Photograph by Arfur Daley)

The Backbencher’s Daniel Pryor interviewed Old Holborn: the controversial libertarian blogger and activist who has attracted fresh controversy after being suspended from Twitter following his remarks concerning the Hillsborough disaster.

– Sum up your political views in one sentence.

… [sic]

– How did these views develop over time? Was it through a certain experience, reading, blogging, the influence of parents and friends, or something else entirely?

I attended a very strict school and was raised by an authoritarian father. It was never going to end well. I soon learned that blind obedience leads nowhere; all those that queue up to tell you how to live your life end up in the same place as you anyway – dead. Personal freedom is the one thing we are born with: many have given their lives to ensure we inherited it and frankly, nobody is better qualified to govern my actions and deeds than myself. Quite why we are still electing politicians to do the job for us astounds me! We live in the 21st century, where I can obtain any amount of information on any subject with a few mouse clicks,  express my views directly to my audience via social media and choose what to support or condemn from the comfort of the internet. Party politicians are no longer relevant in the digital age.

Why do you blog under a pseudonym?

Attack the message, not the man. The minute your opponents discover your identity, they attack it instead of your message. Rational debate goes out the window whilst they rummage through your dustbin in the hope of undermining your argument. How many voices are silenced for fear of exposure? Whistle-blowers are hounded, ridiculed, persecuted and despised: so the truth is suppressed. There’s a reason that governments hate the “Anonymous” movement – they cannot control it. Anyone can be Old Holborn.

What has been your proudest achievement as a blogger/activist?

Just being a permanent thorn in the side of those who would legislate as to how I must live my life – the police, politicians, the press, religion. They have no special potion that grants them eternal life, and I’m happy to hold them all to account. Unjust laws, hypocrisy, vested interests and downright corruption will always be my targets; whether I’m getting people out of prison for not being able to pay their fines or causing a fluster at Westminster, I thrive on it.

Some would argue that your confrontational blogging style alienates more people than it persuades, how would you respond to that?

What others think of me is none of my business – I’m not in a beauty parade. I’ve seen many activists go mainstream and end up reviewing the papers on Sunday night television, compromising their core beliefs in the hope of establishing a paying career in the media that they once despised. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it – it can’t be any simpler. Libertarianism is not about gathering followers or converts, it’s about being able to live your life as you see fit without interference from those who think they know better.

Are you simply being intentionally provocative, or do you genuinely despise Liverpool?

Of course not. I despise a certain mentality. Instead of addressing genuine issues, it simply becomes an outrage bus with anyone daring to question the status quo being attacked. Julie Bailey, the whistleblower at Mid Staffs NHS hospital is having to move home to escape the death threats made by people who have no interest in patient care: just a sworn allegiance to uphold the glorious NHS as a political construct instead of asking why 1200 died needlessly. I despise all “collective” thinking because the individual counts for nothing. Logic and reason are simply discarded in favour of “the common good” and mob rule descends – as recent events on Twitter have demonstrated.

Times are changing. We are all interconnected now via social media and no one voice has more authority than another, so why do we accept rules and regulations set up by 650 politicians to maintain their power over us? I foresee the end of party politics, the introduction of “red button” direct democracy and the rejection of state-imposed diktats. It might take another 50 years but people are no longer isolated silent individuals, conditioned to accept whatever their masters decided that they once were. Now, if only we could stop worshiping the man-made gods of football and celebrity…

Old Holborn’s blog can be found here. He also writes for Blottr, and with numerous account suspensions in recent weeks, his Twitter username is now being spread largely through word of mouth.


  1. OH’s comments about not needing to “gather followers” is absolutely ridiculous. I’m thrilled he’s so confident in his views, but the way to go is not self-identifying publicly as a libertarian and then being obnoxious and rude to other people. He’s condescending and demeaning – when people interact with him, they don’t come away with a good impression. If they don’t like him that’s his problem, but it becomes a problem for libertarians everywhere when we are all tarred with the same brush. Some of us prefer to actually encourage discussion and debate and not shut it down. We don’t want to sit in the background forever, and I don’t want people coming away with a bad impression of us because of a few loud-mouthed individuals. He does more detriment to our cause than he helps us. If he doesn’t care about the effort that the rest of us put in to advance our cause, he’s selfish. Free, but selfish. And I sincerely hope that other libertarians are prepared to call him out on his behaviour.

    • Yes, we know Bob.

      Your new accounts are never going to have the thousands of followers you boasted about before though so ‘job done’ as far as we’re all concerned.

  2. I think twitter has every right to ban whoever they like, it’s their website. Defending free speech is about using your own property to publish.

    But, this twitter ban nonsense confirms everything OH has said about the collective yob mob behaviour.

    OH pointed out that members of a group have committed gross violent or idiotic acts. People that identify themselves with that group have chosen to take it personally and threatened violence.

    OH has consistently stood for liberty and is a champion of the individual. You can’t keep a good man (idea) down. (I’d like to see OH “tweet” on his own blog, which his followers can tweet/facebook themselves.)

    We need more like OH.

    • Bear in mind that, most likely, “they” aren’t banning anyone – an algorithm they put in place to automatically suspend accounts based on a certain number of reports is banning him. Sites like Twitter and Facebook use automated systems like this so that they can get away with hiring a bare minimum of support staff to catch the obviously bad accounts (child porn, etc) that might not get enough reports within the required amount of time to trigger an automatic ban.

      And so, when you piss off an entire city of unemployed grief whores with enough time on their hands to sit on Twitter 18 hours of every day telling everyone who will listen to “report this person”, you get banned. And so you just have to appeal it and hope.

      • Actually it has nothing to do with algorithms any more and he’s had some coaching in how to get around that.

        Robert Ambridge has been permanently banned from Twitter for posting links to his offensive blog and for posting people’s contact and social media details.

        Good riddance.

        • Interesting theory. Completely wrong, but interesting nonetheless.

          For one, several people who posted *his* personal details haven’t been banned. So bang goes that claim.

          Secondly, several other people posted links to his blog to drum up support against him. So bang goes that theory.

          And I happen to know that algorithms *do* play a part, straight from the mouth of a staffer. So congrats, you pulled an entire comment out of your backside.

          • Hi John.

            I have this from Twitter themselves via another that Bob has been permanently banned. I have personally seen the correspondence myself.

            Bob’s blog has had certain, particularly racist sections removed. See for yourself: http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.co.uk/2008/01/coons-and-muslims.html

            I don’t think that necessarily it is the posting of the links to the blog but more the endorsement of it’s content that is the problem for Twitter. Besides, Twitter only have a small team working on moderating what gets posted and so would have to rely on people reporting whoever also posted links to his blog in order for anything to happen.

            Back to you

            He no longer posts the link to his blog on his Twitter profile so that would suggest he has been advised not to.

            He has got around the spam algorithm by being more careful with his following/followers ratio and now we are relying on proving that these new accounts he sets up are also related to him in order to get them removed.

          • I actually Lol’ed. I think you’ll have to unplug the Internet – it’s upsetting you too much

        • And why did that start in the first place Simon? He made comments aimed at Liverpool which where taken completely out of context which then resulted in threats to both OH and his family. Death threats were made, threats of violence made to his home and place of work. Tell me, what would you do? Exposing those who made these threats by naming and shaming them was better than making those same empty threats of sending the boys round so I say good on him and more of the same. Perhaps they might think about the consequences of their actions next time.

          • His comments were taken out of context were they?

            Is this comment by you to be taken out of context as well?


            The prime minister of the country apologises for the ‘double injustice’ but Harry’s not having it because it goes against his prejudices.

            In your Twitter timeline you have tweeted @frankharper1 to use some real hooligans instead of actors in his next film and you apparently have a thing for the Red Star Belgrade fans who are quite possibly some of the worst, murdering scumbags of the last 20 odd years. Weren’t they Milosevic’s shock troops in the Balkan Wars?

            I’ve already condemned the threats of violence on Twitter. Where’s your high moral ground now?

          • Most films depicting football hooligans generally are crap due to those writing them have little or no idea about the sub culture but Frank Harper is different seeing as he was once involved with I believe Millwall. My suggestion is purely based on the fact that actors can’t really portray the reality of what hooliganism is really like however good the script might be.

            As for the Red Star comment, then yes, I do have a thing for them as you put it. I have been to two derby matches in Belgrade which I would suggest you try for yourself if you are a football fan. It really is a spectacle to behold and the passion is electrifying. Might I also suggest Dortmoud v Shalke and Roma V Lazio. Paris St Germaine v Marsailles gets the blood pumping as well.

            You are right in as much that The Tigers commanded by Arkon were recruited from the terraces of Red Star and that they did indeed commit war crimes in Bosnia and Kosovo. But (and there always is a but) that accounts for a couple of hundred of them, not the many other thousands who support the club worldwide. Tarring everyone with the same brush and all that.

            I was never claiming the moral high ground in the first place. I don’t know OH personally, I just happen to find what he posts on Twitter interesting and entertaining, reason enough I would have thought to follow him or anyone else who catches your eye. I happen to think his treatment by some on Twitter has been way over the top, that is my opinion which I am entitled to. I have no axe to grind with you Simon, I was just giving an opinion as I saw it.

    • Bob has his own blog already. He’s had to take down content from there due to it’s racist nature and because he’s looking for a new job at the moment after having had to leave his previous one when it was brought to their attention what a hateful scumbag he is.

      You also seem to forget FreedomFrom that Bob has been organising his own ‘Twitter mob’ for years. He has, like large parts of the country, been abusing Liverpool and the victims of Hillsborough for many years whilst basking in the approval of the demented gang who followed him. The flak he received was as a direct result of his deliberate and sustained goading.

      Nowhere in any of the interviews that Bob has given recently has any mention of his abuse of the victims of the Boston bombings been mentioned, presumably as no one in their right mind can find any way to defend him on this but putting the boot into scousers always gets sympathy from a certain type of person.

        • Not unless you equate whistle-blowing with spouting abuse.

          Bob likes to say that if you don’t like what he writes then you should ignore it which would deny us one of the most important aspects of freedom of speech which is the right to reply. If he wants to go around playing his quasi-political act of Old Holborn then he should expect extra scrutiny and shouldn’t post pictures of himself on flikr.

          None of his libertarian views are going to land him in any trouble with the authorities as we live in a country with free speech. He could post all he wants under his real name and could attract a bunch of followers if all he was tweeting about was about libertarian issues but he wears the mask because he posts plenty of nasty and racist stuff too.

          His work for the freedoms of the individual has been totally undermined in right-thinking society because of all the other stuff he posts.

          You should all grow up and stop defending this odious man and stop referring to him as Old Holborn now that you all very well know who he is.

          • “You should all grow up and stop defending this odious man and stop referring to him as Old Holborn now that you all very well know who he is.”

            Given the context, that is just an awesome piece of writing. Bravo Sir!

  3. I fear the “great and good” will not give up the fight that easily, they’re constantly looking for excuses and ways to interfere with the internet. The tech savvy know how to bypass any interference, the majority don’t.


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